Publication Date: 12/17/2007 4:00:00 PM
Here are some tips for keeping software development costs under control:
1) Don't try to do everything.
This is a common problem for people who are new to custom software development. It is easy to think that it is better to just add that "one more feature" rather than wait until later. However, it is better to weigh each feature carefully, and leave some thinks to do for version 2.
2) Don't try to solve all the edge cases.
Related to the first tip, this is an easy trap to fall into. Most business processes are more complicated than we think at first. There are all kinds of tiny exceptions that you may want to anticipate and handle. Don't. When you think about these odd-ball cases, ask yourself "how frequently does that really happen?" Depending on your situation, it probably isn't worth spending a lot more money to handle a situation that happens less than 5% of the time.
3) Manage the risks.
Make sure that you are keeping the risks as low as possible, to mitigate the costs if problems occur. For example, what happens if the hard drive for the developer fails. How frequently is the source code backed up? Or, how will these software changes affect your customer? Do you need to consider training or additional help on your site? Actively anticipating possible problems during the life the project and determining how you will mitigate those risks will help keep costs from spiraling out of control.
4) Monitor progress.
Don't wait until the end of the project to look at the application. The last thing you need is to realize after most of the money has been spent that the software won't meet your needs. Make sure that you or someone you trust is tracking the progress of the project and reviewing the results.Catching a problem early helps keep costs down.
5) Be decisive.
The most frequent mistake I see that costs customers money is an inability to make decisions they stick to. It is okay to occasionally change your mind and it is certainly acceptable to identify mistakes and adjust your heading because of them. But I regularly see customers pick one direction, then switch to another, and then switch back, trying to please everyone. The reality is that you will rarely please everyone. So don't be afraid to make a decision and stick to it.
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